********CURRENT VOTE MARGINS as of 8:40am Friday********
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect that at approximately 2pm Eastern, the Broward County Supervisor of Elections posted another 11,300 votes (which broke 70-30 in favor of Democrats). This new tranche of ballots triggered a mandatory machine recount in the governor’s race and a hand recount in the U.S. Senate race.
UPDATE #2: After another update sometime after 5pm, Nelson has gained another 2,000 votes, cutting Scott’s statewide lead to just 15,092 votes. It is unclear where these last 2,000 votes came from.
UPDATE #3: Scott has ordered FDLE to investigate Broward County’s handling of ballots. Attorneys for Rick Scott have filed a lawsuit in the 17th Judicial Circuit against Broward SOE Brenda Snipes. The lawsuit demands access to public records in an effort to know how many ballots have been cast, how many have been counted and how many ballots remain to be counted. Snipes maintains that she does not have this information.
Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis may be in trouble. Despite clear margins of victory for both men on election night, Democrat election supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties say they aren’t done tallying up votes. Two days after the polls closed on Tuesday night, Democrat candidates Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum benefited from nearly 46,000 Democrat votes that have been “found” in those counties and added to the statewide election outcome, throwing Florida into a partisan uproar over mandatory hand and machine recounts and the possibility that the integrity of the election process has been compromised.
Nelson already has his lawyer promising that Nelson is going to prevail, and a close advisor to Gillum posted on social media that he is aware of at least 20,000 “more” ballots that he alleges have yet to be counted:
— Kevin Cate (@KevinCate) November 8, 2018
But it is unclear how the Gillum camp could possibly know the number of outstanding ballots – if any – especially since Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes claims she has no idea how many ballots remain to be counted:
“Not sure. I’m really not sure. But we are working on those,” Snipes told CBS4 News in Miami.
Republicans have expressed frustration with Snipes, who has a long history of election “snafus.” Just days before the 2016 presidential election, Republican poll watchers discovered that Snipes and her team were illegally opening vote by mail ballots – which traditionally come from Republican voters – behind closed doors and away from the supervision of the canvassing board, whose job it is to oversee and certify the election outcome.
“This looks like intentional incompetence,” said one Republican strategist who declined to be identified. “We see it every election cycle down there. Democrat election supervisors can’t really be this incompetent, so it raises the question of whether or not they are intentionally failing to protect the integrity of the vote counting process. There’s only one reason to do that, and that’s to rig the outcome for Nelson and Gillum.”
On election night, Florida governor Rick Scott led incumbent Senator Bill Nelson by nearly 60,000 votes. The next day, Scott watched his lead inexplicably shrink. Overnight, enough new Democrat votes had been “discovered” to close the gap by 22,000 ballots. Later that day, Scott watched as Democrats in Broward added another batch of Democrat ballots favoring Nelson. This time around, it was enough to shrink Scott’s lead by another 10,000 votes.
The oddities in Broward continued again on Thursday. When Scott went to bed last night, he held a close but still decisive 30,000 vote lead. When he woke this morning, like clockwork, Broward County again had added a large tranche of Democrat votes. At about 2pm, Broward had discovered another 11,300 votes and when they were counted, they broke roughly 70-30 percent for Democrats. As of tonight (updated at 8pm), Scott leads Bill Nelson by just
22,000 17,344 15,092 15,079 votes, requiring a mandatory hand recount.
Those new votes also reduced Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’s margin of victory to just
38,515 36,223 votes, or 0.47 0.44 percentage points (as of 8pm Thursday) based on the total turnout of 8.2 million votes cast. Anything less than 0.5% triggers an automatic machine recount.
Representatives from both the Scott and DeSantis campaigns say they have attorneys and representatives on site in Broward and Palm Beach, attempting to monitor the situation, but some Republicans are concerned about partisan poll workers gaming the system during a machine recount, where poll workers manually feed ballots into a machine, rather than the actual voters themselves, as happens on election day. Worse, in the case of hand recount, Snipes and her staff may be free to determine the voter’s “intent” rather than simply allowing machines to read the ballots.
“Once we get to that level,” said the Republican strategist, “it’s going to get crazy. With Brenda Snipes running the recount in Broward County, Florida voters should be very, very concerned about the integrity of this process.”,